Why is the military still relevant in African politics?


If anyone thinks that the usurpation of people’s power by the military is a vice of the past, wouldn’t you then look around and rethink? True, there is nothing like a justifiable violent change of government and the refrain that accompanied many coups de tat in Africa-soldiers with a difference-has always proven a misnomer for many of the khaki men and women, who arrogated political power to themselves, through the barrel of a gun.

The primary roles of many organized military, it should be said, include the protection of lives and property as well as the territorial integrity of the state.

However, at a time when you begin to think that the military in Africa has descended the political stage and ready to confine itself to the barracks, the army in fact continues to prove its continued self-arrogated relevance to shaping the political contour of our continent.


Seemingly, Africa is sadly and miserably unable to shake off its dark past of military involvement in its politics. A continent in turmoil in different fronts! The overthrow of Africa’s long-time rulers such as Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe to El Bashir of Sudan some of the events of the 21st century that soldiers rode on to show their ‘saviour’ role in the continent’s political trajectory. It should be noted that both leaders had their political ambitions shortened by the military following widespread discontentment among their populations.

And closer to home in Mali, the military has now rolled out a three-year transitional programme after capping months of sustained anti-government demonstrations with a coup. The Malians have outpoured onto the streets many weeks before the putsch but little did they know the coup de grace or the decisive stroke would have come from the soldiers.

But as we join the rest of the democracy-loving people in calling on the Malian junta to restore people’s power by immediately going back to the barracks, wouldn’t it be ideal to ask why is the military still relevant to shaping the political destiny of Africa?

Africa’s experience with military rule has always been bitter but it would seem the dynamics would be always there for the soldiers to garner public support to change governments which, of course, is unacceptable.

In many military interventions, self-styled saviours will justify their ‘stepping forward to the fore’ by advancing the notion that they have come to respond to popular discontentment over ineptitude of governments; governments overrun and besieged by worries of despondent citizens over unemployment, insecurity in food and public wellbeing, corruption, rights abuses, decay in fiscal and physical infrastructure, broken hopes among many long and killingly chilling excuses.

So, why should the ground become so fertile to the extent that coups became fashionable and glorified in Africa in the 21st Century as we have seen in Zimbabwe or Mali?

However, the military should for heaven’s sake come to the realization that they have no business at the Presidency other than the provision of security and safety of lives and property therein.

We, therefore, once again call on the junta to go back to the base and give democracy a chance in Mali.